This essay was the author’s presidential address at the annual meeting of the Pacific Coast Branch, American Historical Association, in Waikoloa Beach, Hawai’i, on August 6, 2016. The address compares three multiracial communities—in Boyle Heights, California; Cape Town, South Africa; and various sites in Hawai’i—and asks why these areas often sparked controversy and were considered dangerous by the powers governing these societies. How these communities became multiracial through labor migration and urban land policies is explored, as well as the nature of interracial life that was created. Each of these communities shares a common history of interracial radicalism that threatened white supremacy, as well as confronting policies of forced removals that attempted to destroy their multiracial nature. Finally, the address, given in Hawai’i at the end of the Obama presidency, addresses the importance of keeping local histories alive through projects of historical memory and museums of conscience.

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